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This restaurant isn't featured in the appropriate section, but I just couldn't let it go unnoticed, so here it is, the bestest place in the world!!
Let me make your mouths water.
Wednesday was a sad day, made good by the fabulous food encountered at 'La Pizzeria Italiana' in Catford. 'Twas the leaving 'do' of a colleague, who I've worked with only for 2 months but am already missing like crazy!
This place really is a hidden treasure. It is in the middle of that funny island that seems to serve no purpose in the attractive Catford area, quite literally hidden by a block of flats/offices, Eros House. The situation does NOT fit with the quality of the food.
It was my second visit to the place, but my colleagues have been loads of times, because it's fantastic, really reliable. We had a half seven booking and so all sat down and immediately helped ourselves to the vino (having already been in the pub since finishing work at half five). The décor is really cute; I think it's quite recently redone. The restaurant is cosy, decorated in rich colours, and it seems that children are welcome; there were a few (well-behaved, thank god!) with parents.
My one complaint about the night was that they took absolutely ages to take our orders, nearly an hour. But as the booze and the chat was flowing, nobody seemed to mind. The waiting staff are so fantastic, they get away with it. I also think they may have wanted to wait to take our orders so they could get the smaller parties out of the way first (there were 12 of us.)
The owner there is little in stature, but huuuuge in personality. He is hyperactive and crazy and perfectly and authentically Italian. He appears to work like a dog, seemingly cooking pizzas and taking orders simultaneously. At one point he stood on a chair so that he could be level with Chris, who's the tallest in the department! OK, so you had to be there! His most said phrase seems to be "Hello Moto" and he endearingly seems to pretend that that's the only English he knows.
For starters, I had 'avocado al forno;' which was avocado (!) with mozzarella and tomato sauce. This was a little messy but absolutely divine. I didn't want the dish to end.
For my main course I opted for a Pizza Napoletana (that's with anchovies, capers and olives). This is a fairly regular pizza but they do have a huge variety, vegetarian or otherwise. I always go for something with anchovies, because I love them, and this pizza was particularly fantastic. The meal didn't leave me uncomfortably full either, which is often the case when eating out. They do have a wide variety of pastas, salads and chicken and fish dishes, so everyone's (Italian) needs are catered for.
For dessert I had some sort of delicious (I forget the name, because, quite frankly, I was sozzled) white chocolate ice cream ball coated with a crunchy layer of more white chocolate. More divinity. I'm no Tom Parker-Bowles, so that's the best I can do description wise.
The meal came to £220 for 12 of us. That includes 3 courses each, and at least 5 bottles of wine. One of the lads was on the JD and coke too, and yet the total was still this paltry sum. This is affordable my anyone's standards I think. That's less than 20 quid each for 3-course meal with drinks! We stayed at the restaurant till at least half eleven, and were the last to leave, but were not made to feel even vaguely unwelcome even by this point. The owner continued to laugh and joke with us until we finally staggered out of the door.
All in all, a great night, at a great, affordable price!
N.B. One other thought has just come up. Despite numerous mints and teeth-brushings, I still felt as if a garlic tree had exploded in my mouth, 12 hours later. You'll be able to ward off vampires but you won't be kissing anybody! So make sure you are single, or go with your loved one, and make them eat something equally garlic-laden. Then neither of you will notice!